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Is it considered bad form to point out errors

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rdpla View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08 Jun 2020 at 9:04am

So, I have been reading some fantastic stories on the screenplay challenge 2020. I have entered myself and if I make it to the second round, I will consider that an achievement in itself...
I have noticed that there are lots of grammatical errors. They won't change the world, but I have also noticed holes in some scripts.... 

Is it considered rude to point those out and just enjoy the piece for what it is or should it be mentioned without belittling the author... As an example  ( but not used in the scripts), the car (previously described as an automatic) broke down, so we all got out and pushed/bump start it and it roared off down the road with my 5 year old boy behind the wheel.. You cant push/bump start an automatic. or... I hanged my coat on the coat rack.... (later) i asked my wife to fetch the coat from the car. Rich people drinking champagne like water ,giving a porsche/ ferrari gift to friends, but shopping at Aldl and using coupons from The Sun..

Would love to hear your thoughts...

Rob

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote north_north_west Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2020 at 9:15am
Speaking only for myself, I would appreciate hearing all forms of constructive criticism, be they grammatical fails, logical flaws, or simply poor plot or character choices that aren't entertaining to read about.  It's nice to hear people like your story or screenplay, but it's not helpful.
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rdpla View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rdpla Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2020 at 9:19am

Exactly..its like auditioning for BGT and the judges ask  'who told you you could sing'..and the reply is 'my family, friends auntie Dora' etc... 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2020 at 9:46pm
Some people will appreciate it others not. I do mention it along with format errors - not in a big way, but I mention it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote BarbaraFL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2020 at 7:04am
I'd definitely want to be told - even if I weren't planning to revise that specific piece, it could be helpful for future ones. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stephenmatlock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2020 at 10:27am
I'd caution against too much, especially grammar/spelling, for a finished piece. It can't be fixed at that point. Also, I find it helpful to use the analogy of a sandwich: I found this good, this threw me off, but this is what made this work for me.

"Temper the wind to the lamb" is a good mantra. If the writer is obviously new, or says that they're new, they might be overwhelmed by too much. Point out the strengths, first and foremost! Everyone does their best--we all need that encouragement. Then if something doesn't work--say that. Then round it out with a summary.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BarbaraFL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2020 at 11:19am
Originally posted by stephenmatlock stephenmatlock wrote:

 Also, I find it helpful to use the analogy of a sandwich: I found this good, this threw me off, but this is what made this work for me.


Ooh, that's a great approach - also diplomatic and kind/constructive.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alfdis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2020 at 12:15pm
Answering as someone who usually points things out:

I think it's just a question of using your judgement with each individual piece. As someone else here mentioned, some people will respond well to it and some won't, no matter how good the intention or gentle the delivery. How people respond is not your problem (unless you were monstrous).

I, myself, don't bother with something that's just rife with poor grammar because I assume that the person, whether a native or non-native speaker, will eventually realize that they need to work on their English. If I were up to it (and again, using my judgement) I would MAYBE send that person a private message asking whether or not they might care for a bit of grammar coaching (speaking as a trained ESL teacher).

When I do comment on grammar, it's usually either in a very matter-of-fact way when there's one glaring, stand-out error that fouls an otherwise decent text (e.g., "here the correct grammatical choice would be 'its', not 'it's'"), or an attempt at gentle explanation when I suspect the person might not be a native English speaker. I think it's important especially in the latter case because in my experience, people trying anything in a foreign language genuinely want to be guided in the right direction- but of course without feeling like they're being told their English sucks.

The same goes, more or less, for continuity errors. I usually just try to slip in that a bit of editing, proofreading, or research of the subject matter would have benefited the text.

I use the "sandwich" style mentioned above almost universally in my critiques. It helps me to think more critically about my own response to a story and as such, yes, it's an effective and constructive way of going about providing feedback. It seems to be generally well-received. I think that if you can word your critique in a way that encourages the positive aspects of a person's writing while shining a light on errors as just that- mistakes that can be corrected and writing that can be improved as a simple matter of practice- you're gold.

Edited by alfdis - 09 Jun 2020 at 12:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shemuel99 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2020 at 1:34pm
Personally, I would prefer my writing to be ripped apart by an editor. From there I can pick and choose the advice I'm given. Like "no I prefer to use the Oxford comma" or "oops yeah I did spell that wrong" or "no I need it to be worded that way to avoid ambiguity" or "that sentence is crucial to understanding this character.

A mature writer will accept your constructive criticism. And if they're not mature enough yet, I believe they do need to learn.

That being said, it can also be beneficial to point out the writer's strengths, especially because we tend to notice the flaws more. The flaws are what trip us up, make us cringe. So in a way that's not sandwiching the bad stuff in the good stuff to make them feel good, I think it's a good idea to also point out their strengths.

But be cautious--if you're not asked, it may not entirely be welcome.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nimhathuna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2020 at 12:24pm
Hi,

Though I'm new to this forum, I'm mature enough to appreciate the value of constructive criticism. It's something I do myself. The sandwich method is effective. I think, however, and this is purely from reading feedback on other writers' work, there should be leeway and understanding concerning word usage. A word's connotation or meaning in a European sense may be quite different from its American usage. I have read feedback which was purely negative, no positives whatsoever. There was another with an almost token attempt at positivity. This is disappointing. I'm a firm believer that words carry a lot of weight. Therefore they should be used wisely. It behoves no one, particularly no writer, to point out imagined errors or problems with words when there are none. Caution, like a previous commente has recommended, is needed. Further, if you've nothing positive to say then say nothing at all. I've read many stories here that use expressions/terminology/references that I was unfamiliar with myself. I looked them up. Moreover, it was quite apparent that the universal appeal of these stories obliterated this minor point. Okay, I've said my piece. Rant over! Best of luck to everyone in the competition!!


Edited by Nimhathuna - 29 Jul 2020 at 10:48pm

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